The US House of Representatives Jan. 6 committee said Sunday it would interview more former cabinet secretaries and was willing to include conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as part of its Investigating the US Capitol riots and subpoenaing Donald Trump’s role.
Lawmakers said they were deepening their probe after a series of eight hearings in June and July, culminating in a prime-time session on Thursday, with plans to interview more witnesses and meet again in September to bring their findings back to the public.
“We anticipate speaking to additional members of the President’s cabinet,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair. “We expect to speak to other members of his campaign. Of course, we are also very focused on the Secret Service.”
Cheney, R-Wyo., has not identified the Trump administration officials who may come forward, but the committee has previously expressed an interest in speaking with those believed to have been considering serving in the 25th Amendment to initiate a constitutional process to remove Trump from office after the January 6, 2021 riots when hundreds of Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol, disrupting confirmation of Joe Biden’s election.
The committee aired testimony from former Attorney General William Barr, who said he told Trump that widespread allegations of voter fraud were “bullshit” and had “zero basis.” At last week’s hearing, the committee played testimony from then-Labour Secretary Eugene Scalia, who said he had urged Trump to call a cabinet meeting to discuss an orderly transfer of power.
Other cabinet members have indicated they may have important details to share.
Betsy DeVos, then Secretary of Education, previously told USA Today that she and Vice President Mike Pence raised the question of whether the Cabinet should consider invoking the 25th Amendment, which requires approval by the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet would have meant that the President could no longer fulfill his duties.
In her January 7, 2021 resignation letter, DeVos accused Trump of inciting the mob. “There’s no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation and that for me is the turning point,” she wrote.
On the same day, Elaine Chao resigned as Minister of Transport. Chao, who is married to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said the attack “deeply disturbed me in a way I just can’t put aside.”
Mike Pompeo, then Secretary of State who is considering a presidential nomination in 2024, and Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury Secretary, are also reported to have discussed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment in his book, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl “Treason.”
“The floodgates have opened,” said Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., regarding the next phase of her investigation.
Committee members also hope to learn more about Ginni Thomas’ own efforts to keep Trump in office and the potential conflicts of interest for Clarence Thomas arising from the Jan. 6 cases being heard in the Supreme Court. The committee sent a letter to Ginni Thomas last month requesting an interview and hopes she will comply, Cheney said.
Thomas communicated with people in Trump’s orbit prior to the 2021 attack and also on the day of the riot.
“We certainly hope that she’s willing to come voluntarily,” Cheney said. “But the committee is fully prepared to consider a subpoena if she doesn’t.”
Cheney also said that while the committee has not yet decided whether there should be a criminal referral to the Justice Department regarding Trump, “that’s absolutely something we’re looking at.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., added, “I think there’s certainly evidence of crime, and I think it goes as far back as Donald Trump.”
While a possible indictment of Trump is a matter for the Justice Department, the committee has used its hearings to try to prove his political viability as he ponders running for office in 2024. Some of the committee’s most damning testimonies come from Trump’s own senior Republican advisers, military leaders and confidants, who admitted to losing confidence in his judgment and commitment to the rule of law in the days leading up to and following the Jan. 6 attack.
The committee also wants to get to the bottom of missing intelligence texts from Jan. 5-6, 2021, which may have further shed light on Trump’s actions during the riot, particularly after previous testimonies about his confrontation with security forces when he tried to join supporters in the Capitol.
Lawmakers are also interested to hear from Steve Bannon, a Trump ally who was found guilty last week of criminally contempt for congressional charges by refusing to comply with a House subpoena.
Cheney has spoken on CNN’s State of the Union and Fox News Sunday, Kinzinger has appeared on ABC’s This Week, and Luria has been on NBC’s Meet the Press.
AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro and Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
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